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The experiences of female principals on curriculum leadership in rural secondary schools of Limpopo Province, South Africa

Mahlapahlapana J Themane
Layane T Mabasa
Mmaphaba M Mathedimosa


In South Africa, as in many countries, curriculum leadership has traditionally been reserved for men. This was informed by the apartheid system and the cultural practices, which always regarded women as inferior to men. A few women who led curriculum were mainly found in primary schools. This article reports on the study that focused on how women have managed curriculum implementation in secondary schools in order to inform both policy makers, school principals and scholars of gender studies about good practices from these case studies. The study followed a qualitative research approach where a case study design, was adopted. Data were generated through focus group interviews and document analysis. The study found that: One, these principals possessed social skills, such as warmth and strong relationships. They also had school policies in place which displayed a fair amount of professionalism. Two, they had good social relations. They were able to work as a team with the teachers and other stakeholders. Three, there were different views on cultural issues. One principal indicated that cultural issues interfered with her duties whereas the other one indicated that it was not a problem. Four, principals were struggling with curriculum issues. These findings have at least two implications. Firstly, that women if given opportunity and support they are able to use their feminine skills and behaviours to make schools enabling environments. Secondly, that women have a disposition to promote social change and to serve others better.

Keywords: Principals, Women, Curriculum, Leadership, Transformation